UK airports scrapping security rules on liquids and laptops thanks to new 3D scanners

The requirement to remove liquids and laptops from hand luggage during security checks could be ditched in 2024.
The requirement to remove liquids and laptops from hand luggage during security checks could be ditched in 2024.   -   Copyright  Jeshoots
By Rebecca Ann Hughes  & Ruth Wright

“The tiny toiletry has become a staple of airport security checkpoints, but that’s all set to change."

Last week, the UK Transport Secretary has revealed a major shake-up of security rules at airports, potentially leading to much shorter queues.

Air passengers will be allowed to carry 2 litre bottles of liquid from June 2024 onwards. The current limit is 100ml.

Liquids will no longer have to be in plastic bags, nor will laptops and tablets have to be removed from bags when you go through airport security.

“By 2024, major airports across the UK will have the latest security tech installed, reducing queuing times, improving the passenger experience, and most importantly detecting potential threats," says UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper. 

How will the new rules work?

UK airports will be installing 3D scanners. These allow security staff to zoom in on items in travellers’ luggage and rotate the images for detailed inspection.

These scanners have been used at London’s Heathrow airport since 2017, and at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam and at several airports in the US for the last few years.

What are the current rules for liquids in hand luggage?

The Transport Secretary reminded passengers that, "This won’t happen straight away - this is going to take two years to be fully implemented. Until then, passengers must continue following the existing rules and check before travelling.”

So what are the current rules?

Passengers must place all liquids into a clear plastic bag to pass through security.

You are allowed to bring a maximum of one litre of liquid in containers of up to 100ml, though in practice most airports allow one plastic bag per passenger.

The plastic bag must be removed from carry-on luggage when passing through security checks.

The liquids bag must be placed in a tray along with any laptops or tablets.

These rules have been in place since November 2006. They were introduced following a foiled terror plot to blow up planes flying from London to the US using homemade liquid bombs.

Why are there queues and delays at airport security?

Throughout the summer, airports across Europe were overwhelmed by traveller numbers due to travel restarting after pandemic restrictions.

It caused lengthy queues at security checks. The delays even meant passengers missed flights.

Airports and airlines blamed lack of staff and too many flights a day.

Delays are often also exacerbated by passengers failing to take liquids and laptops out of their bags.

Are the security rules on liquids different around the world?

Earlier this year, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that millions of dollars are being invested into hi-tech airport scanners in the US.

The TSA said the technology would make passengers feel safer as it can better detect banned objects like weapons.

The agency added that it would also remove the need for travellers to take liquids and laptops out of hand luggage.

At the moment, however, these rules still apply.

Around the world, restrictions concerning liquids in carry-on bags are fairly standard. The US, the EU, the UK and dozens of other nations follow the same rules.

There are only a few exceptions. The limit on liquids is lifted for domestic flights in Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, and New Zealand, for example.

If you are unsure of the rules, however, it is always best to double check on your airline’s website. 

Watch the video above for tips on how to pack for a week with just hand luggage.